AP Top News at 4:56 a.m. EST

As 'net neutrality' vote nears, some brace for a long fight
NEW YORK (AP) - As the federal government prepares to unravel sweeping net-neutrality rules that guaranteed equal access to the internet, advocates of the regulations are bracing for a long fight. The Thursday vote scheduled at the Federal Communications Commission could usher in big changes in how Americans use the internet, a radical departure from more than a decade of federal oversight. The proposal would not only roll back restrictions that keep broadband providers like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T from blocking or collecting tolls from services they don't like, it would bar states from imposing their own rules. The broadband industry promises that the internet experience isn't going to change, but its companies have lobbied hard to overturn these rules.


Bannon, undeterred, under siege from GOP after Alabama loss
NEW YORK (AP) - Former White House strategist Steve Bannon is catching blame from fellow Republicans for coughing up a safe Senate seat in deep-red Alabama and foisting damaging political advice on President Donald Trump. But in the aftermath of this week's stinging Alabama defeat, Bannon is showing no signs of abandoning his guerrilla war against the GOP establishment. Bannon wholeheartedly backed Roy Moore, the insurgent conservative who faltered in Tuesday's special election amid allegations that he had preyed on underage girls decades ago. The accusations prompted the national party to withdraw support for its nominee for a while, but Bannon stuck with Moore, headlining rallies for the candidate and convincing Trump to extend a full-throated endorsement.


Ample tax cuts for business, wealthy in new GOP tax accord
WASHINGTON (AP) - Generous tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest Americans would be delivered in a sweeping overhaul of the tax laws, under a new agreement crafted by Republicans in Congress. Middle- and low-income families would receive smaller tax cuts, though President Donald Trump and Republican leaders have billed the package as a huge benefit for the middle class. The agreement reached Wednesday by House and Senate GOP leaders also calls for scrapping a major tax requirement of the "Obamacare" health law, a step toward the ultimate GOP goal of unraveling the law. The agreement combines key elements of separate tax bills recently passed by the House and Senate, striking compromises on some of them.


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Decade since recession: Thriving cities leave others behind
As the nation's economy was still reeling from the body blow of the Great Recession, Seattle's was about to take off. In 2010, Amazon opened a headquarters in the little-known South Lake Union district - and then expanded eight-fold over the next seven years to fill 36 buildings. Everywhere you look, there are signs of a thriving city: Building cranes looming over streets, hotels crammed with business travelers, tony restaurants filled with diners. Seattle is among a fistful of cities that have flourished in the 10 years since the Great Recession officially began in December 2007, even while most other large cities - and sizable swaths of rural America - have managed only modest recoveries.


Coroner: Accused Ky. lawmaker's death apparently suicide
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Dan Johnson, a Republican state lawmaker in Kentucky who defiantly denied allegations that he sexually assaulted a teenage girl in the basement of his home, died in an apparent suicide, the county coroner said. Bullitt County Coroner Dave Billings said Johnson died of a single gunshot wound Wednesday night on Greenwell Ford Road in Mount Washington, Kentucky. Billings said Johnson stopped his car at the end of a bridge in a secluded area, then got out and walked to the front of the car. He said an autopsy is scheduled for Thursday morning. "I would say it is probably suicide," he said.


Palestinians, a large Jerusalem minority, feel Trump snub
JERUSALEM (AP) - Pedestrians walk on a thick layer of soot from tires set ablaze in frequent clashes with Israeli troops. Cars navigate around potholes in streets littered with garbage. Motorists honk in a traffic jam near an Israeli checkpoint that is framed by the towering cement slabs of Israel's separation barrier. It's morning rush hour in Ras Khamis, a neglected, restive Arab neighborhood of Jerusalem where President Donald Trump's recent recognition of the contested city as Israel's capital has been met by cynicism, defiance and new fears that Palestinians will increasingly be marginalized. Trump's pivot on Jerusalem "is regrettable, saddening and unfair," said Yasser Khatib, 42, who runs a supermarket across the street from the barrier that separates several Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem from the rest of the city.


Judges to examine if drug stash-house stings racially biased
CHICAGO (AP) - The question of whether federal agents display racial bias by staging phony drug stash-house stings overwhelmingly in black neighborhoods is the focus of hearings beginning Thursday in Chicago and could determine whether agencies curtail or even abandon their use nationwide. A first-of-its-kind panel of federal trial judges holds two days of hearings on the stings, which are overseen by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and typically involve agents posing as cartel couriers who talk suspects into agreeing to rob drugs that don't exist from what they are told are guarded stash houses that are also fictitious.


South Korean President Moon in China on visit to repair ties
BEIJING (AP) - South Korean President Moon Jae-in met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Thursday during a visit to Beijing aimed at repairing ties frayed by a dispute over the deployment of an American anti-missile system. The two leaders were to preside over a document signing ceremony following their talks, although there was no indication they would be issuing statements. While the visit is a sign of progress toward resolving the more than one-year-old dispute, China continues to demand the removal of the U.S. Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, known as THAAD, saying it allows South Korea and its U.S. ally to spy on military activity in northeastern China.


Hayek says rebuffing Weinstein led to nightmare on 'Frida'
NEW YORK (AP) - In one of the most vivid accounts yet of Harvey Weinstein's alleged abuse and harassment, Salma Hayek says the disgraced movie mogul turned the making of her 2002 passion project, the Frida Kahlo biopic "Frida," into a nightmare after the actress refused Weinstein's relentless advances. "For years, he was my monster," Hayek wrote in an op-ed published Wednesday by The New York Times. Her refusals - of massages, showers and sex - enraged him, she wrote. "I don't think he hated anything more than the word 'no,'" wrote Hayek. Hayek, who regularly starred in films released by Weinstein's Miramax in the 1990s, credited Weinstein with helping her start her career.


As Olympics near, South Korea agonizes over post-Games costs
GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) - South Korean officials have ruled out turning a state-of-the-art Olympic skating arena into a giant seafood freezer. Other than that, not much is certain about the country's post-Winter Games plans for a host of expensive venues. As officials prepare for the games in and around the small mountain town of Pyeongchang, there are lingering worries over the huge financial burden facing one of the nation's poorest regions. Local officials hope that the Games will provide a badly needed economic boost by marking the area as a world-class tourist destination. But past experience shows that hosts who justified their Olympics with expectations of financial windfalls were often left deeply disappointed when the fanfare ended.